On 21 August 1918 Major General Charles Rosenthal, Commanding Officer of the Second Australian Division, wrote the following commendation for the Military Medal for William Thomas Clarke:
At Warfusee, east of Amiens, on 8 August 1918, during the advance in the thick mist with his platoon he ran up against an enemy MG post and was twice beaten back with bombs.
He managed himself, however, to work around to a flank which enabled the platoon to kill four and capture three with the machine gun.
Throughout the whole operation this NCO acted with confidence and courage which set a fine example to his men.
Born in Orange in 1895, William was the second of four children of Maurice Joseph Clarke and Sarah Ann nee Hopkins. William was educated at Orange Convent School, and then Parkes Convent School.
Following his education William entered his father’s plastering business in Parkes. During this time he also served for two years in the Citizens’ Forces.
William enlisted in Parkes on 11 January 1916. He embarked HMAT A40 Ceramic in Sydney on 7 October 1916, disembarking in Plymouth on 21 November. He undertook two months’ further training at the 5th Training Battalion before proceeding to France on 4 February 1917, a private in the 20th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement.
On 3 May 197 William was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to the right shoulder. He was admitted to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance, then the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station. followed by the 1st Australian General Hospital before being evacuated to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham, England, on 14 May.
Private Clarke returned to France in August 1917 and was appointed Lance Corporal the following month.
In October 1917 Lance Corporal Clarke was wounded in action for a second time, sustaining gunshot wounds to his knee and side. Again he was evacuated to England, to the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool. He did not rejoin his battalion in France until 2 April 1918.
William served for a further six months before being killed in action on the Western Front.
On 8 October 1919 Maurice Joseph Clarke received the following letter from the Officer in Charge of Base Records:
I am directed to transmit per separate registered post one Congratulatory Card issued by the General Officer Commanding 4th Army, British Expeditionary Force, referring in laudatory terms to the conspicuous manner in which the late No 5797 Sergeant WT Clarke, MM, 20th Battalion, conducted himself on the battlefield in the face of the enemy.
William Thomas Clarke is commemorated on panel number 90 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.